It made us smile at home to see that when faced with lockdown the first thing everyone stockpiled, apart from toilet rolls, was pasta and tins of tomatoes. Viva l’Italia!

But if you have run out of pasta, this recipe for stuffed pancakes is a winner. It gives all the satisfaction of homemade pasta and, once the bechamel sauce and quick sugo is made, the assembled dish can be kept to

re-heat when ready to eat.

If you find any new season asparagus you can use it instead of spinach.

Crespelle pancakes stuffed with Spinach and Fontina

Makes 4 pancakes


2 large eggs

250ml milk

90g plain flour

Sea salt and

freshly ground black pepper

Unsalted butter


Whisk the eggs, milk, flour and seasoning to make a batter.

Melt a knob of butter in a

non-stick frying pan.

Add 2 tablespoons of batter and cook until the underside is browned. Flip over, cook the top and lay the pancake on a plate.

Cook all the pancakes and set aside.

For the filling

500g spinach, washed

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

250ml milk

1 shallot or quarter onion

1 fresh bay leaf

50g unsalted butter

2 tablespoons plain flour

Freshly grated nutmeg

6-8 tablespoons grated melting cheese, fontina, compte or gruyere

Freshly grated Parmigiano

Fresh basil


Add the spinach to boiling salted water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water.Drain and squeeze out the excess water.

Make a bechamel sauce

Place the milk, shallot and bay leaf in a saucepan, bring to a gentle simmer and leave to cool to infuse the flavours.

Melt the butter, add the flour and cook to form a ‘roux’.

Gradually add the drained milk and keep stirring with a wooden spoon to make a white sauce. Season well with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.

Easy tomato sauce

Make a simple tomato sauce by sautéing a clove of garlic and a chopped shallot in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Add a 450g tin of tomatoes whizzed.

Cook on a low for 20 minutes.

Season and add some fresh basil.

Now prepare the crespelle

Pre-heat oven 230C/Gas 8. Butter an oven-proof dish. Place a pancake on a work surface and coat with some béchamel sauce.

Add some sautéed spinach and layer with the grated fontina.

Roll up and lay on the baking dish.

Repeat with each pancake laying each side by side in the dish.

Drizzle any remaining béchamel sauce and grated cheese on top. Dress with the cooked tomato sauce and a generous grating of Parmigiano.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and crispy.

Mary Contini

is an author and broadcaster

and director of Valvona & Crolla.

Easy Peasy: Real Cooking for Kids by Mary Contini and Pru Irvine is out now

Valvona & Crolla are trading online during this period. Visit or call 0131 556 6066

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